FRAMINGHAM – The Massachusetts School Building Authority Designer Selection Panel interviewed and identified an architect for the proposed new Fuller school in Framingham yesterday, Sept. 12.
The Town of Framingham wants to construct a new middle school on the site of the current Fuller Middle School. The proposed new school would house 630 students. Voters would need to approve the construction costs via a ballot question, possibly as soon as November 2018.
yesterday, the panel ranked OMR Architects as the top finalist. The other finalists were Jonathan Levi Associates and Tappe Associates.
There are 13 members of the Panel, including three from Framingham. Framingham representatives include Superintendent of Schools Bob Tremblay, Town Manager Bob Halpin, and Fuller Middle School principal Jose Duarte.
The Panel determined that OMR Architects, Inc. possesses the requisite skills and experience for this project, particularly in light of their extensive experience in the design and construction of schools in Massachusetts, wrote Joseph Buckley, chief engineer for the Massachusetts School Building Authority.
“While our local, top-rated firm following today’s interviews was Jonathan Levi Associates, OMR was our strong second choice and we are extremely pleased with the Designer Selection Panel’s vote to engage their services on this project,” said Tremblay.
“OMR has a strong management and design team and a strong sense of balance and practically, a commitment to sustainability in the design, and a very strong plan around community engagement and communications,” said Tremblay.
The Town of Framingham should now take the appropriate local steps necessary to award the contract for designer services to the first-ranked firm and authorize fee and contract negotiations, said Buckley.
In January 2016, the Massachusetts School Building Authority officially voted to begin the process to fund a feasibility study to renovate or replace Fuller Middle School.
In May 2016, the Authority, after rejecting Framingham’s application twice, gave the first major green light for the new Fuller Middle School project.
Fuller Middle School was originally constructed in 1958 as Framingham South High School. The building became Fuller Middle School in the mid 1990s.
Since then there have been several improvements:
- 1995 Roof Replacement
- 2005 Converted heating system from oil to natural gas
- 2005 Replaced boilers
- 2007 Auditorium Improvements
- 2009 Portion of north masonry wall replaced
- 2010 ADA accessible ramp and railings at the main front entrance
- 2013 Warranty roof repair performed
- 2014 ADA ramp installed at rear of building
Even with those improvement, the school has several issues, and the district is facing an enrollment crunch.
Framingham Public Schools has seen incoming kindergarten classes of at 700 students or higher students for the last several years. With the student population growing, the public school district opened the former King Administration Building as an elementary school.
At one point the district was considering purchasing land from the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph on Bethany Road for a new school, but a deal could not be reached. Now, the district is focused on construction of a new school on the site of the current Fuller Middle School.
Earlier this year, the Framingham School Committee approved a “Feasibility Study Agreement.”
In February, the Massachusetts School Building Authority approved that agreement.
Framingham voters could be asked to approve the cost to construct a new middle school as early as November 2018. At one point, the estimated cost for a new Fuller-Farley campus was $48 million.
Framingham is eligible, if approved by the state, for up to 59 percent reimbursement of cost of the project. It is unknown if the cost is still at that price tag.
The state process for funding a new school is a long and complicated one.
There are more than 8 steps in the eligibility phase, including creating a School Building Committee, which would be responsible to manage the process and oversee the construction of a new middle/elementary school for Framingham, partially funded by the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA). That Committee was named last summer.